Environmental Health Action Guide - compiled and maintained by the Sustainable Cleveland Partnership and NeighborhoodLink




Ten year old Joey Brown was sent home from school last month after he complained of breathlessness and began to wheeze. The Browns were informed at the Med Center later that day that Joey suffered from childhood asthma and that incidents as well as severity of asthma were on the rise in their North Park neighborhood. Recently, Joey's parents worked with his teachers in school and organized an asthma education program for parents and children. They learned that both indoor and outdoor air pollutants increase the frequency and severity of asthma. In order to reduce asthma, both pathways must be controlled.

Later, at another focus group organized by the North Park Community Center, the Browns learned that outdoor air pollution in North Park came mostly from emissions from traffic congestion and several nearby factories. Concerned parents are now organizing themselves to investigate pollution permits for these factories. What are they going to do about the new asphalt plant coming into their community? Is there any way they can control traffic emissions?

Find out what you can do to improve the quality of life for your family members suffering from respiratory disorders.




* Environmental Health Watch


Symptoms of Asthma:



shortness of breath

chest tightness

rapid breathing




Contact Environmental Health Watch at 216/961-4646 for general information on asthma in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.



Contact American Lung Association of Northern Ohio at 216/781-5656 for information on asthma.



Contact the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program at National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at 301/251-1222 for the latest medical and environmental information on asthma. 

Contact USEPA's Indoor Air Quality Information Hotline at 800/438-4318 to receive a copy of "Asthma, Air Quality, and Environmental Justice."  

Contact Allergy and Asthmatics Network Mothers of Asthmatics, Inc. at 800/878-4403 for information on asthma, doctors in your area, the latest medical treatments, and more. 

Access the Allergy and Asthma Links Homepage for links to other sources of asthma information on the web. 

Access the Allergy Basics Center for more links to information on asthma. 

Contact the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America at 800/727-8462 for national asthma research and advocacy information.  

Access The Asthma Sourcebook, a newsletter on the latest medical developments in the fight to control asthma.

Full mailing addresses and phone numbers of organizations listed on this factsheet are available in this Guide's Directory of Organizations.




The exact cause of asthma (and its recent increase) is not known. We do know that asthma attacks can be triggered by things in the environment that we are allergic to or that irritate the lungs. Both indoor and outdoor pollution can trigger attacks. Reducing exposure to these triggers and taking medications as prescribed can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.



Common asthma triggers and what you can do about it:

Most Importantly, See a Doctor: If you suspect that you or your child suffers from asthma, talk to your doctor or health care provider about medications available to control the symptoms.

Indoor triggers:

Tobacco Smoke: Avoid smoking in the home and encourage family members to quit smoking. Contact the American Lung Association of Northern Ohio at 216/781-5656 to learn about programs that can help you quit smoking.


Cockroaches: Cockroach parts and feces are very common triggers of asthma. Keep your home cockroach free using safe cockroach control methods. Avoid using sprays, foggers, or bombs. Call Environmental Health Watch at 216/961-4646 for information on safe cockroach traps.


House-Dust Mites: Keep your child’s mattress and pillows in an airtight cover. Avoid sitting or sleeping on upholstered furniture. Wash bed covers, clothes, and stuffed toys regularly in hot water.


Strong Odors And Sprays: Keep your home well ventilated. Paint your home only when asthmatics are not there and avoid using perfumes or perfumed household cleaning products.


Animal Dander: …are tiny pieces of skin from such pets as dogs, cats, birds, and rodents that can irritate the lungs. Keep pets out of the home or bedroom of the asthma sufferer. Wash the pet regularly. Choose a pet without fur or feathers (e.g. goldfish).


Indoor Mold: Keep bathrooms, kitchens, and basements clean and well ventilated.


Outdoor triggers:

Outdoor Air Pollution - Dust and Smog: Avoid active outdoor activities when air pollution levels are high. To find out about today’s air pollution levels, call 216/441-7474 for a recorded message with today’s Air Quality Index results in Cleveland.


Cold Weather: Wear a scarf over mouth and nose and dress warmly on cold winter days.


Pollens, Outdoor Molds, And Other Allergens: Stay indoors when the pollen count is high. Keep windows closed and use air conditioning to keep cool.



Exercise: Talk to your doctor about how exercise affects your asthma. Take your asthma medication before exercising and always have medication with you when you do exercise.


Stress: Social and emotional stress can trigger asthma attacks. Avoid stressful situations and try to relax.


Infectious Flus And Colds: Stay healthy. These common illnesses can trigger serious asthma attacks.


Get Help: Contact the American Lung Association of Northern Ohio at 216/781-5656 for information on childhood and adult asthma programs in Cleveland.


Contact Local Elected Officials: Write or call asking them to support strong policies to reduce air pollution and protect both children and adults from asthma.



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